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We check out the Jaguar Game Drive Flash Cartridge by RetroHQ. It is a flash cartridge for the Atari Jaguar that allows you run all your Atari Jaguar ROM’s from a Micro SD Card! The Jaguar Game Drive is easy to set up, just copy your ROM files to a FAT or FAT 32 Micro SD Card. Update the firmware and you are ready to enjoy your games and homebrew ROM’s. The menu is easy to use, simply highlight a file and select it to play.
Jaguar Game Drive Review Video
You can find out more information about the Jaguar Game Drive on the RetroHQ website. You can also find a list of official stockists around the world on the site. The Jaguar Game Drive was purchased with my own money and is not sponsored in any way.
Jaguar Game Drive Review (Text)
Today we are checking out the Jaguar Game Drive cartridge from RetroHQ. It was released in 2019, but in very limited numbers. And recently there has been a new batch in which I was lucky enough to buy one.
The Jaguar Game Drive is a flash cartridge for the Atari Jaguar. Much like any other flash cart, it lets you play both commercial and homebrew ROM’s on the original console.
The cartridge looks a little different from the original Jaguar cartridges, losing the curved tube on the top and the raised area on the back. Personally I do not mind, but purists may have preferred a look more authentic to the original, let me know what you think.
The Jag GD shell has a textured feel to it, not too dissimilar to that found on their Neo Geo Pocket cartridge, it gives it more of a premium feel than a plain plastic shell. On the right side is a Micro USB slot, I could not find any mention of what it does officially, but I did read you can upload and run code through a cable. So it’s essentially for Jaguar developers for faster testing of their games than having to copy to the SD card..
On the top is a Micro SD Card slot, it will accept FAT and FAT32 formatted cards. The entire Jaguar library is around 500Meg or so, so there’s no need to buy anything large. Lets get it plugged in and booted!
The first time you boot up you will need to update the firmware in order to use it. I have removed sensitive information from this image, as you will need to visit a specific page for your Jag GD in order to get the correct firmware. You will only need to do this once and then for any further firmware updates. It is a minor inconvenience and it helps protect RetroHQ from unofficial clones
On future boots you will go straight into the file browser menu. You can make your own or download premade Marquees which provide the boxart, screenshot and game information for each game.
Navigation is straightforward, with up and down to scroll through the files. Holding the A button while pressing Up and Down will skip a page, and pressing Left and Right will skip a Letter. Folders are supported and can also be navigated. Admittedly the Jaguar game library is not massive but you can easily browse it with these options.
Game loading is essentially to highlight a game and press B to load it. Depending on the size of the ROM file, it will take a short while to load. I speed tested a few ROM sizes for how long they take. I believe all original commercial games are between 1 and 4Megs. Homebrew ROMS can be up to 16Meg.
So for the vast majority of ROMS, you are looking at between 7 and 14 seconds to load a game which is not too bad.
- 1MB – 3.5 seconds
- 2MB – 7 seconds
- 4MB – 14 seconds
- 16MB – 55 seconds
For some homebrew games without the correct headers you will need to specify where the ROM file is loaded to.
That’s pretty much all there is to the Jaguar Game Drive, let’s take a look at a bunch of games running and then sum everything up with my final thoughts.
Overall I am very happy with the Jaguar Game Drive. It does exactly what it sets out to do, which is play Jaguar ROM’s, and it does it perfectly fine. From booting up, to loading and playing, I have not experienced one single issue during my time of trying a variety of ROMs.
The menu software looks and works great, with some nice navigation shortcuts. The only addition I can really think of, is like an In Game Reset function to save having to power off/on.
The Jaguar CD system is currently not supported. RetroHQ have previously mentioned that once larger production and distribution was underway that they would look into it. This is not confirmation that it will be supported, so for now, do not take that as a guarantee.
The cost of the Game Drive is £168, around $180. This is around the same price ranges of other consoles flash cartridges such as N64. Taking into account that some Jaguar games are hard to find and expensive to buy now, it will be costly to have access to all games. In my opinion it is a reasonable price for the cartridge, especially if CD support is added in the future.
If you own a Jaguar, then I can highly recommend the Jaguar Game Drive. It is a no hassle solution to accessing Jaguar games and the many homebrew titles that are available. You can find out more information on the RetroHQ site at retrohq.co.uk.
Find the second part of our Jaguar Game Drive flash cartridge review to see how well CD games run on it.